ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Three theories of Counselling

Updated on April 16, 2013

There have been several theories developed which have been applied and used by counselor practitioners in the last four decades. The three major theories include person-centred, attachment theory to counselling and cognitive behavioural.

Person-centred theory places great emphasis on the process of experiencing, making meaning of things as they appear, therefore supporting the belief that each individual has an inner strength as well as the power for personal growth. This strength could be found within therapy through three core conditions; congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard. The actual relationship of therapist and client is important to achieve therapeutic success (Rogers, 1957). Therefore this theory has been mostly effective in therapies which involve helping people who are going through life transactions.

Attachment theory on the other hand, places emphasis on the attachments formed in the first years of life, supporting the view that the attachment between mother and child is the most important of all and that this mostly shapes the attachment patterns developed by the child later in life. Within this theory failure of forming attachments as a child may cause emotional disturbance or problems in forming relationships in adulthood. Therefore attachment theory has contributed to counselling by offering therapists more awareness concerning the ways in which their clients formed relationship with others.

Cognitive behavioural theory was developed out of two existing theories, the cognitive theory and the behavioural theory. An underlying principle of this theory is that all behaviour is learned and can be unlearned. Therefore within the cognitive behavioural approach to therapy individuals are encouraged to recognise the ways in which they behave and therapists help them learn to behave in different and more useful ways.


Person-centred theory, attachment theory and cognitive behaviour theory have been seen as having an integral role in the practice of counselling while each contribute in different ways.

Person-centred theory has mostly stressed the importance of the uniqueness of each individual as well as that of the therapeutic relationship, proposing the main features and most important aspects of therapeutic success, the core conditions of which are congruence, unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding.

Further, though attachment theory did not contribute to the development of a single therapeutic approach, it has shed light on counselling in its own way by helping therapists understand their client’s attachments and how these influence their current relationship patterns. This theory has also been used to bring therapeutic change as well as more productive functioning within a client.

Cognitive behaviour theory has emerged out of the existence of two other theories supporting the view that a person’s emotions and behaviours are determined by how they perceive and interpret their experiences. This theory mostly aims to change conceptualisations in order to bring about change. In the therapeutic approach of Cognitive behaviour therapy, therapists are supportive, empathic, and collaborative with their client while making use of experiments as well as empirical processes. In addition, it provides a range of techniques from which the therapist can choose depending on the needs of their client. The main therapies within the CBT framework are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy and Cognitive Behaviour Modification.

Despite the criticisms made and limitations found in all three theories discussed, these remain successfully in use today, within the therapeutic process of counselling.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Chris Achilleos profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Achilleos 

      6 years ago

      I am very glad that you have found my article helpful Joseph. I have written more hubs on this subject, which i think you may find interesting. Thank you for reading and commenting. Good luck on your Counselling course.

    • profile image

      Joseph Marfo 

      6 years ago

      I love this article so much.. it just provided by with a summary of my course in Counselling this semester. thank you

    • Chris Achilleos profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Achilleos 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting Vinodkpillai, I am very happy that you enjoyed both my hubs.

    • Vinodkpillai profile image


      7 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Chris I liked this as much as the one on Carl Rogers. Thanks!

    • Chris Achilleos profile imageAUTHOR

      Chris Achilleos 

      7 years ago

      Thank you very much Pamela. I am glad you enjoyed reading :)

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Dapples 

      7 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      I liked this article as much as the first one of yours I read. This is nice to have a simple overview of some very complicated subjects. I imagine counselors who work with people on parole would use the cognitive and behavioral theories in the counseling sessions plus be mindful of the attachment theory -- so they can understand their client.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)